|sci.lang.japan FAQ / 7. Pronunciation|
Moras are the rhythmic units of Japanese. The Japanese writing system of kana is based on moras, placing one kana on each mora, with some exceptions with 'softened consonants' like kya, known as yōon. See 7.8. What is yōon?
The difference between moras and syllables is:
In changing English words to Japanese, for example 'trumpet' is pronounced torampetto. The moras are to-ra-n'-pe-(sokuon)-to, which makes six, although the original has two syllables, trum-pet. See also 5.1. How do I write an English word in Japanese?
There are also various reasons to consider Tookyoo "Tokyo" and hanbun "half" both to be two-syllable but four-mora words.
Moras are counted as 1-paku, 2-haku, ... using haku (拍) or 1-on, 2-on, ... using on (音).
This answer is based on a newsgroup post by muchan.
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